tv [untitled] June 27, 2011 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
were unrelinquished. at the time, the city agreed to hand over a couple of corridors. virginia avenue, a bunch of trees on other streets. they said they would keep on maintaining. but the first reaction was, for a number of homeowners, to ask for removal permits. subsequently, some of the people that had to maintain their own trees had topped them, as seen in earlier illustrations. i do not remember what the numbers are, but we have effectively lost trees that were going just fine in the neighborhoods. i think that was an unsuccessful experiment. the fact that we managed to resurrect some of the trees and
keep dpw maintaining them was a success in the neighborhood eyes. as other speakers mentioned, we have the folsom tree corridor from bernard hill to the mission to approximately 21st street. elm trees that were planted at the neighborhoods request by the city in 1973. the city was going to maintain them. well, they have come in some cases better than others, but it is an iconic corridor that people can compare to other places in the city. like delores street. people know where it is. we would like to keep that going, and as the previous speaker mentioned, it is not going to happen if individual property owners who run a little coffee shop on the corner or rent out a couple of apartments -- how are they supposed to take
care of trees like that? so i would urge you to make arrangements so that dpw actually gets more tree maintenance vehicles because the city needs them. supervisor avalos: thank you very much. another iconic street is persia street in the excelsior district. next speaker please. >> good morning. the key word for today is the iceberg. i consider my mother to be a victim of ex-mayor newsom's screening program. in 2008, this letter was received and underlined the department of public works will be responsible for the care, watering and long-term maintenance of the trees. short-term maintenance is my responsibility. as a caregiver, the letter
basically said, we do not want a tree because there is no way we can maintain it. the letter was never replied to. phone calls came back with a staff member calling me. the intensity of the phone conversation was fine. it was basically, screw you, you are going to get a tree, whether you like it or not. pole speed ahead. -- full speed ahead. we were never notified that mayor newsom would include a tree program on church street. 30 years ago, my mother did not
get a tree. as you can see on our block, there is a tree that had been there. it has been replaced. the sidewalk is going to be replaced again. the cost of doing business. there have been 12 events in the 1.5 block area between july 8 and december 9, two blocks on church street, just trimming or removing concrete on the streets to repair the trees. pg&e also comes in and cuts the trees that are there. bucket truck 450 on the street
parks and then return later for a yawn. the meeting impact required disruption of service of over three and a half hours causing muni service to be disrupted. buses to be substituted. church street between 22nd and 30th now has green dots on all of the squares. it cost $100 a square to replace. that is a considerable cost. i contacted the mayor's office but did not get a response as to the cost. supervisor avalos: thank you. >> i know you do not want to hear it because it is politically incorrect -- supervisor avalos: thank you for your comments. >> here are the newspaper articles.
supervisor avalos: if there are no other members of the public that the bug to comment. ? public comment is closed. scott wiener has also expressed a great deal of concern over this as well as finding revenue for maintaining our level of street tree maintenance. if you would like to express any comments now? ok. a couple of questions raised by members of the public. one was related to if there was a plan -- there is -- to relinquish the responsibility for treatments. would that be a tree by 3 basis, or is it done by street? -- tree basis, or is it done by
the street? >> good morning, supervisors. ed rifkin. i am sorry i was not able to be here at the beginning of the hearing. as to the process of relinquishing, we will only relinquish as we bring them into good condition. if they have been recently pruned, that is a requirement of the public works code, something we would want to do in any case. it will be somewhat tree by threree. often, it could be a block or stretch of a street. technically speaking coming it is a tree by tree. then we would notify the property owner when we have a tree in good condition ready for look relinquishment.
supervisor avalos: but it looks like you will be looking at that in blocks? >> generally, yes. supervisor avalos: as far as your community maintenance program, is that all general fund? are there other sources of funding that cover that cost? >> it is predominantly a general fund. there is a little bit of general fund in the capital budget. i believe we get a little bit of prop k, a half cent sales tax money, for tree maintenance. the overall budget is relatively small. supervisor avalos: the prop k funds, that was approved about seven years ago or so. is that a specific amount that can be only used for treatment? is there flexibility on that allegation? >> as with most of the prop k funds, there are a lot of little buckets that the money flows through.
i believe the treatments money that we have is solely for tree maintenance. supervisor avalos: how much is that? five under thousand dollars? >> yes, around five and a thousand dollars, $600,000 -- $500,000, $600,000. supervisor avalos: is there any way to use sewer fees because there is an impact on run off? perhaps if the board had the ability to reprogram puc money -- i am not sure if there is anything available for that, but could that be a source of funding for purposes of restoring our sewer system, maintaining runoff, that can go into our ground water, tree maintenance, preventing the sewer system from being overburdened by rain.
>> it is a great question. in order to use those funds -- many to be a direct nexus established. you could establish that nexus and the stormwater benefit. we would probably have to undertake some analysis to establish that texas. then it is a matter of lying for the funds in the sewer system. as you know, the sewer system has a backlog, just as our streets do. they do not have the funds are now to adequately be ride the restoration and repair its -- provide the restoration and repair they need. diverting some of that money to treatments, while it may be a legitimate use of repair funds, would we in the sewer system. certainly a conversation that we could have with the puc.
supervisor avalos: maybe we can bring our offices together. maybe that is something that supervisor weener wants to weigh in on as well. he has expressed an interest in that as well. >> i will follow up with the puc today. supervisor avalos: ok, well, i want to thank everyone for their comments and for dissipation in today's hearing. clearly, the comments were overwhelmingly, completely from people concerned about our forest, a canopy, concerned about the direction that the city is going in right now with relinquishment of street tree maintenance. that is something alarming. i know this plan has been coming forward for a while. i have been concerned about it. i think it makes some sense to
figure out how we can prevent that from happening and look at, in the short term, proposals -- perhaps to have 11 fte's. to have those maintain would be a short-term goal. to have a longer-term goal, how we can find a revenue source that could be available to maintain. the benefits are clearly a great and numerous to the city oand county of san francisco. i appreciate the friends of the urban forest also talking about the community benefit, not just the individual benefit, having a
tree in front of their property. i'm looking for to what we can do with the current budget to the least alleviate the immediate need to of aggression our responsibility for the street tree program. >> if i may, we share the love and passion for the urban forest. that is a core part of our mission. it is a clear responsibility laid out in the public works code. it is our responsibility. so in terms of the importance of the larger community benefits of, environmental benefits, economic benefits and, we see it as an important part of the city's infrastructure, something we want to maintain in the best way that we can. i just want to affirm that we are coming from the same place. i do want to mention what we are proposing here, which might be
unfortunate but necessary, given the state of our resources, given the state of inequity that currently presides -- resides, we do think it is the responsible thing to do. we are not proposing a radical shift for the urban forest. two-thirds of the street trees in san francisco today are the responsibility of private property owners. so in most cases, that is already where the responsibility lies. so we are now proposing a massive shift of responsibility. we are kind of enjoying more in a direction that we have already established -- supervisor avalos: i agree with that, but i do not think there is a real consciousness about property orders are informed about their responsibility, or when they do not have the
ability to physically do the care, have ways to get it done and the city still able to step in when they cannot do it. an aide to be a system for that to work. it does not seem like we are quite there. i would like to see, before we go through any relinquishing, if that can be explored. i know this is something you are probably concerned about. i appreciate your dedication as a public servant. i understand dpw is stretched thin, but we would appreciate an conversation about how we might do that. >> we have striven through our community court or programs, sidewalk improvement programs, recently come out of reach with trees, helping people to understand their responsibility. everybody is responsible for the
sidewalks already. it is just that one-third of the trees are taken care of by the city. you are right, people do not understand their responsibility. we have been working hard to make sure that they do. supervisor avalos: and in a way, when the city cannot step in to support, either with advice, training, or actual services itself of street tree maintenance, it would be important to have some sort of hybrid approach instead of pulling back completely. i think we need to maintain a level of staffing to make that happen. >> we have been working to provide good information and not just on the trees that are your responsibility, but here is how to care for it, here are some resources. we will also still do emergency repair, inspections. those things will not go away. i just want to clarify the point, most street trees are ready and they are generally being maintained by private property owners.
that is not to say we do not believe, which we do -- some members of the public indicated, to make sure that all the trees are uniformly cared for, for dpw to provide that service through a dedicated source of revenue. that would be what is best for the urban forest. we concur with that as well. just, absent the funding sources, it is not something we can do. even with the 11 arborists we have today, we are not nearly adequately maintain just those. we probably need three times as many arborists to be near that 5% of average cycle to prune. we would need triple of what we have today just to maintain the one third we have. supervisor avalos: when was the
last time we had -- i remember in 2005, i was working on legislation about trees. >> i think we've provided data going back a few years. we have been cutting for the past three years because we have run out of other places to cut. i guess i just wanted to caution, even if we were to find funds from the puc or wherever, to get back to 11, we feel it would be appropriate to pursue rather than the course of relinquishing. it will take a long time to happen. we can only do it as the trees are prepared to do so. the sooner we can get real funding in place to fully maintain our forest, the sooner we can stop -- supervisor avalos: we are going
to end hearing very soon, but i think if we could look at some hybrid approach, a joint response. as a person mentioned folsom street, there are some trees that are very difficult for property owner to maintain because of their size. those protected by the city. the city maintaining that it is probably what makes sense. i have a small tree in front of my house and i can easily maintain it. that is something that is completely viewable. but there are probably hundreds of others who have a tree in front of their house that cannot do that. they need an option. i can see the property owner had been added responsibility, and also for the city. that is where i wanted to go. thank you. if there are no other